#200: Auto-actuary

I’m seriously cheesed off that I can never tell when my aging car is about to develop a need for a terminally-costly repair…ie one which is actually higher in price to fix than the value of the vehicle to me.

I had a BMW once which was in excellent condition, but one day its drive shaft main bearing shattered and the estimated repair cost was thousands of pounds. I tried arguing with the garage that the purchase price premium for such fancy vehicles should make their repair costs lower, but you can imagine the reception i got as a ‘valued customer of BMW‘…Needless to say I don’t buy that brand any more.

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The problem is a wider one though, so today’s invention is to provide car owners with access to manufacturers’ data about what repairs are generally required when -for each different model. If I know that a C-class Mercedes will, in general, need a new set of brake discs at 150,000 miles and that the job will cost £2,500, then I can start to calculate how much it’s worth spending on that vehicle, given how long I expect to keep it.

Without this actuarial knowledge, cars can have a small fortune spent on them by owners, whilst garages accept the cash knowing that there is an economically terminal problem looming within the next few months. Access to these data would also have interesting effects on the second hand market (and perhaps ultimately manufacturers would start to build in greater longterm reliability -or at least to create a more predictable pattern of decline for each vehicle).

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